Debbie Croft: Book details Mariposan's incredible life

February 8, 2013 


She lived quite a life, and it isn't over yet.

A newcomer to Mariposa, Claire Kathleen Daniels Goldman recorded many of her experiences in her autobiography, "My Life."

By chronicling the years from 1914, when her parents met, to 2009, she reveals the courage, curiosity, humor and purpose that filled her life.

Born in England in 1918, hers is a story full of warmth, glamour and intrigue interspersed among recollections of family and friends, good times and hard times.

Her earliest memories include staying with an aunt while her brother recovered from typhoid, and trips to France and the east coast of England.

Goldman still remembers the poem she recited for a competition at the age of 11. She won first prize. As the judge, actor and producer Miles Malleson, presented the award he suggested that she come back to see him when she was 18. He believed she was very talented and had a future as an actress.

Her teen years were spent at Hendon Secondary School, where she was involved in sports.

When she finished secondary school she passed a scholarship exam to the Hornsey School of Arts and Crafts. Although she loved sketching and painting, she declined, thinking she would marry at a young age as her mother did.

After attending business school, she found a job at a wholesale dress manufacturing company doing clerical work and modeling stock clothing for clients.

Within a year she was fired, but soon landed a similar position with another dress company in the same building. This led to a full-time job with the Lucie Clayton Modeling Agency, the largest and most respected modeling agency in London.

Modeling for the next five years was the highlight of her young life, especially in 1939 when she was chosen with five other girls to model for Queen Elizabeth. The queen needed new outfits for the Canadian tour she and King George VI were planning.

Later that year at the Festival of Britain, Goldman met the queen again.

Goldman remembers the radio announcement on Sept. 3 of that same year, by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, declaring Great Britain to be at war with Germany.

Suddenly everything changed. Air raid sirens disturbed her serene life. She volunteered for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, part of the Royal Air Force.

That was when she dated a truly mysterious man from Norway. She was informed by military intelligence not to talk to anyone about him, nor to mention his activities to anyone for 30 years. After three months she never saw him again.

After officer's training, she met a pilot. They fell madly in love and planned to be married. But Jim Poole's plane was shot down over Berlin in December 1943.

The next year another man entered her life. Joseph Goldman was a Californian who enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to England. While on weekend passes, they met in London. One Friday night she and Joe planned to go to the Café de Paris to hear an American jazz performer.

When she called home to let her parents know she'd be in late, her mother said her brother had returned unexpectedly from his posting in Yemen. The couple changed their plans and caught a bus for home. That same night a bomb hit Café de Paris, killing 30 people and injuring 80.

They married, moved to Los Angeles after the war and had two daughters, Angela and Pam.

While living in Los Angeles, Goldman got her real estate license. Her first client was Edwin Dingle, an English journalist and author who founded the Institute of Mentalphysics.

Pam died of measles at the age of 14. In the book is a letter written years later from mother to daughter.

A few years after Joe passed away, Goldman moved from Southern California to Mariposa.

She is now 95 years old and lives with her daughter and son-in-law part time, and in an assisted-living facility the rest of the time.

Angela says her mom is always optimistic. "No matter where she goes, she adjusts and makes a life for herself."

Goldman spends her time watching British television, listening to audiobooks and visiting with friends. According to her daughter, she still flirts like crazy.

At the age of 91, she flew to Australia with her daughter and son-in-law. It was there they saw for the first time Goldman's great- grandchild, Jarrah Joseph Heiss.

"It was love at first sight ... As I complete these stories, as I complete my life, I look to Jarrah and the next generations to remember," she writes.

"My Life" is available at and at the San Joaquin Valley Library system.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at

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